26 juin 2003
Discours du Maire:
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to begin by expressing my gratitude for being a guest of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. In particular, I want to thank Professor Struycken and M. van Loon, for their kind invitation to inaugurate the newly built wing of this prominent institute.
All the more, I feel privileged, since The Hague Conference on Private International Law is the institution that laid the foundation of The Hague's worldwide reputation as a city of peace and justice. Today, more than a hundred years later, the Conference is a leading legal organisation in the world, with a steadily growing number of Member States. No wonder that your residence, although quite stately, became too small!
Not far from this building, a remarkable picture was made, back in nineteen thirteen. It is a picture of the funeral procession of Tobias Asser, the founder of the Conference. You see his coffin on a funeral carriage with two horses, just at the moment as it passes by the nearly completed Peace Palace. A photo with a nigh symbolic value! The farewell to a man, who was a Dutch pioneer in the field of international legal cooperation. Could he have imagined what role The Hague would play one day?
Throughout the twentieth century, this city developed into an international centre of justice and peace. this development continues today. The Hague is hard at work, building upon the international position we have already achieved, and doing so with success. Since the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the saying 'a one way ticket to The Hague' has taken on a new and different meaning.
Yet, it is not The Hague that decides about the establishment of international judicial organisations. The role of The Hague lays in another field. 'City of peace and justice' is a honourable name, but as you all know: 'noblesse oblige'. The Hague has to prove unceasingly that it is fully capable of providing the best possible facilities to the international organizations.
The world is becoming smaller and smaller thanks to statellite-phones, e-mail and the Internet. The Hague enjoys an eminent position in the field of Information and Communications Technology. The city authority sees the further development of digital communication resources as a priority. An excellent technological infrastructure, enabling effective communication using the Internet is a most important consideration, especially for international organization wishing to put a clear message forward.
However, no matter how advanced a city's communication resources, physical accessibility here on the ground remains important. The Hague's international and open character calls for optimal accessibility. The situation is good, but it can be improved. We cannot afford to stay behind. The connection of The Hague to the European Highspeed Train Network, within a few years, is one of the projects that will meet the demands of the future.
We don't forget that a city is not just a place in which one works; it is also a place in which one lives. The Hague puts a high value on offering the staff of international organizations a wide choice of high-quality housing, both in the centre and in the outlying residential districts. In order to ensure that we continue to meet demand for high-quality housing, and with a view to providing suitable accommodation for diplomats and international officials in particular, and there will be a spacious and prestigious new development to the south of the city. Here, tranquillity and a luxurious setting will be combined with excellent accessibility and all of the essential amenities.
To be an international city, means to provide schooling in many languages other than Dutch. Various international schools have established themselves in The Hague. It also means a high-quality cultural life, which is therefore at the top of the priority list for The Hague.
ladies and gentlemen,
I hope you understand how much we appreciate the presence of every organisation and institution that gives The Hague its international legal reputation. It all started with the Conference on Private International law. With the name of our city incorporated in its own name, the Conference promotes The Hague to every part of the world. We are very proud to host your prominent organisation.
It is therefore with great pleasure that I inaugurate this new wing of the Hague Conference of Private International Law!